The eastern eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) is found throughout South Carolina. Also known as the eyed elater, this is one of the larger click beetles in the region, with adults sometimes reaching almost 2” in length. They have two large black spots near their head that look like large eyes, which are thought to be for scaring away potential predators. Adults feed on nectar and are somewhat common around hardwood forest areas.
Eastern eyed click beetle larvae are known as wireworms and typically live in rotting stumps and logs where they are predators of other insects – especially larvae of longhorned beetles that might also be feeding in the dead and decaying wood. This predaceous behavior is unique in this group of beetles, as most wireworms are pests of agricultural crops.
Click beetles get their name because of their ability to snap their bodies to right themselves after getting turned over. Adults have a mechanism that allows them to arch back and, with a loud “click”, snap their body and flip over.
Eastern eyed click beetles are harmless to people or pets, so if you do see one, just enjoy the sight of one of South Carolina’s largest click beetles!